There was a new study released Monday this week that stated beef is by far the most environmentally damaging protein. According to the research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, beef requires 28 times more land than what the average total is for dairy, eggs, poultry or pork to be produced.
Compared to other animal proteins, beef will produce five times more heat-trapping gases (per calorie) and take 11 times more water for irrigation. Not only that, but beef will use 28 times more land than any of the other proteins. A spokesman for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Chase Adams, said the study “represents a gross oversimplification of the complex systems that make up the beef value chain.”
The scientists worked to develop a uniform methodology with five livestock categories and a set of four measures of environmental performance. They then utilized data from 2000-2010 that was provide by the US Department of Agriculture to calculate how many resources each form of livestock would require.
“We have a sharp view of the comparative impact that beef, pork, poultry, dairy and eggs have in terms of land and water use, reactive nitrogen discharge, and greenhouse gas emissions. The uniformity and expansive scope is novel, unique and important,” lead author Professor Gidon Eshel, from Bard College in New York, told BBC News.
According to the published study, raising livestock for food is a global practice that contributes to one fifth of total global greenhouse gas emissions, while also polluting water sources and on top of that interferes with biodiversity.